Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Chess Car

Who else but a couple of Dutch gentlemen could come up with this? The Chess Car!

Thanks to Dvice.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Change in Malaysian Chess

Sponsor of the Saintly Cup in Sydney way back in 1999 (won by American GM Joel Benjamin) Datuk Tan Chin Nam is set to retire as president of the Malaysian Chess Federation.

From The Star Online.

A Note from Olala Chess

Grandmaster Arthur Kogan (Israel) sent me an email overnight in response to my post on "Justice or Entertainment?". That's the same guy who found himself in the middle of that so-called African Nightmare that Aussie IM Alex Wohl was also connected with.

Here's Arthur:

I completely agree with you TCG!

Most of the chess professionals including me are leaving professional chess, looking for other jobs. The situation is super critical and so sad mainly because the great potential of CHESS was hardly ever used.

But there are still so many GMs that look for 'JUSTICE'. With all the respect to GM Rogers, come on! It is really amazing and so childish. There is no point to laugh, but it is more logical to cry I guess.

Kramnik, Topalov, Anand and friends have no problems with good invitations and making money, but what about the rest of the GMs? Many of them where not less talented, but didn't get so far and so now they are forced to change profession. Big 'JUSTICE'!

Instead to 'grow up', as you correctly say, and to open the mind, to find new ways to make chess more attractive, to get more sponsorships and more of the public in; instead to work for a better future for more professionals who dedicated almost all their lives for chess but didn't get to the top.

Most grandmasters are still living in dreamland searching for JUSTICE. Come on! What is JUSTICE in chess? That a GM rated 2650 can hardly survive the month while a ranked number 300 in the world in tennis is living as King!? Does the more clever person always win the game? Does the one who play all the games well but lost due to his nerves and blundered deserve to lose?

OK, this is a subject for discussion but a result is a result and MUTUAL RESPECT and GOOD EDUCATION are basic for all of us. It's clear that Irina Krush proved to be a bad loser and this is another proof of the need for more articles like yours to open the mind of chess pros and in any case case, of course, behaving well during and after a game is a great idea and could help for many chess lovers.

I will even consider it as a subject for lecture in my chess academy. Irina is invited! :-))

I should mention that our friend GM Kogan runs a chess training academy in Spain. He and fellow GM Alexander Delchev call themselves the Masters of Olala Chess. That's right, Olala Chess, meaning "new perspective based on a POSITIVE WAY OF THINKING ABOUT CHESS that search for harmony, and the search of pleasure in our games!"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spassky: Sanest of Chess Players

When asked by a reporter if he ever regretted devoting his life to chess, Boris Spassky was reportedly tight-lipped telling the reporter, "Ask second question, please".

Yesterday, the UK's Guardian paper published a brief portrait of the ex-World Champion (1969-'72).

There must have been times in his career when the former world chess champion Boris Spassky, something of a rebel within the old Soviet chess establishment, feared being packed off to Siberia. At Hay, he finally found out what it would have been like.

Happily, he quickly charmed away the wintry weather. Here was the most gentlemanly and, whisper it, sane of chess players - proof that the great game does not, contrary to popular myth, attract only those who would spend their lives in an asylum if they were denied the sanctuary of the 64 squares.

Spassky visited Wales recently for the Hay Festival where he took on 20 players in a simul.

RP Aims at World Supremacy

Philippines chess boss Prospero "Butch" Pichay told a gathering recently, "Our aim is to beat the number 1 in the world which is Russia". Local paper Sun Star further quotes the pioneering chess boss as saying, "We're now moving on in our quest to become a world power in chess, not just in Asia".

I don't know about beating Russia; after all, there's also India and China who are producing superstars left, right and centre. But at least the humble Pinoys have ambitions which you can hardly say about their Australian counterparts.

Oh yeah, that's right: the Aussies rule Oceania!

Monday, May 26, 2008

ACF Cracks Down on Booze

Sometimes these ACF folks just send me reeling like a drunk after a coupl'a dozen cases of alcopops. The body's latest email newsletter contains a link to the "ACF Code of Conduct for Juniors". I don't know about you, but I think it's the first time I've read it. Anyway here's an item in the Code that caught my eye and it appears under the section "Parents accept responsibility for":

Paying all costs if their child is requested to withdraw from the competition after failing to modify their behaviour after an official warning. Where abuse of alcohol or substance abuse occurs no warning system operates. Parents should be aware that alcohol/substance abuse will lead to immediate withdrawal from the competition and being sent home in disgrace.

Did you get that? You don't just go home, you go home in disgrace! So there you are kids - lay off the booze.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Justice or Entertainment?

Happenings in US chess rarely draw my attention. But this morning, as I went about my Sunday morning ritual of coffee and paper, firstly flicking over to GM Ian Rogers' column in Sydney's Sun Herald paper, my attention was provoked.

In the past week, the US decided its latest champions: GM Yury Shulman for the men, and IM Anna Zatonskih for the women. It's the women's event to which we turn our attention. To say that the finish was dramatic is perhaps an understatement. Here's a video of how the title was decided. Watch from about .20 to 1.12.

Reactions to that incident can be read on ChessVibes and on YouTube. But here's GM Ian Rogers' take on it as well as on the so-called Armageddon finish:

Krush was, not surprisingly, devastated yet such scenes are likely to become more frequent as the Armageddon rule seeks to substitute entertainment for justice.

Most worrying is the possibility that the upcoming world title match in Bonn between Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand could be decided by such a game.

(You can read the regulations to the Kramnik - Anand match here).

Firstly, on the Krush incident: as far as I am concerned, Krush only had herself to blame. She failed to hustle. Bad time management, bad play and capped off by poor attitude. My sympathies for her are about as much as I give to that hapless side Chelsea FC. Zero!

Secondly, on the use of Armageddon: frankly, I don't see what the problem is. Rogers' notion of "justice" is, well, pretty mysterious to say the least. Maybe we need the simple reminder that we're not here to seek justice, we're here (or you know, there in Bonn) to find the winner. That's it! If we can go about that process with a little entertainment thrown in, then all the better. I think you'll agree that even for aficionados, draw after draw punctuated only by the occasional decisive game (which, you can bet, is what we'll likely witness in the upcoming match) can be terribly boring.

Finally, chess really needs to grow up. We want big sponsorship money, then we need to give results. Armageddon (or penalty shootouts) give results.

I'm in favour of Armageddon. What say you? Look right, scroll up and vote in the poll.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gonzales Wins Subic

Our man in Manila, local journo Iggy Dee, has confirmed a few details about Rolando Andador: 30 years old, a policeman and the 1995 National Junior Champion. Sadly, Andador lost his 9th round encounter to GM-elect Jayson Gonzales to settle for a final score of 6 points from nine games.

With his win Gonzales took out the inaugural Subic Open with 7 points overall ahead of Wesley So, Yuriy Kuzobov, Eugene Torre and Bong Villamayor who all ended with 6.5 points each.

1st Subic Open
Gonzales, Jayson
Andador, Rolando

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 c6 3. c4 Nf6 4. Qc2 a6 5. c5 Nbd7 6. Bf4 Nh5 7. Bd2 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. g4 Nhf6 10. h3 Qc7 11. e3 O-O 12. Be2 e5 13. O-O-O Rb8 14. Kb1 Re8 15. Rc1 exd4 16. exd4 Ne4 17. Nxe4 dxe4 18. Ng5 Nf8 19. Bc4 Be6 20. Rhe1 Rbd8 21. Bxe6 Nxe6 22. Nxe6 Rxe6 23. Rxe4 Rxe4 24. Qxe4 Rxd4 25. Qe8+ Bf8 26. Be3 Qd7 27. Qxd7 Rxd7 28. Kc2 f5 29. gxf5 gxf5 30. b4 Kf7 31. a4 Bg7 32. Rb1 Be5 33. Re1 Rd5 34. Rb1 f4 35. Bd2 Ke6 36. f3 Rd4 37. Re1 Kd5 38. Bc3 a5 39. Bxd4 Bxd4 40. bxa5 Kc4 41. Rb1 Bc3 42. Rxb7 Bxa5 43. Rxh7 Kd5 1-0

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Four Players Lead in Subic

The inaugural Subic International Open in the Philippines is heading for an exciting finish tomorrow as four players will fight it out for top honours. Ukraine's GM Kuzobov and RP's Wesley So, Jayson Gonzales and the 2201-rated local man Rolando Andador are all leading with 6 points each.

Appropriately enough So will slug it out against the Ukrainian visitor on board 1, while Gonzales and Andador will face each other on board 2.

Andador's run has been amazing. En route to his last round assignment he managed to beat a string of IMs and in round 8, played today, he came off better against Indonesian grandmaster Susanto Megaranto. I've sent a note to a contact in RP for some background filler on Andador. Hopefully we'll get something soon.

Tibor Karolyi in NSW Champs

The Sydney Academy of Chess' Brett Tindall emailed me this morning about Kasparov's penile incident in Moscow (it being an example of why chess gets such a bad rep, he says), but I was more interested in the 2008 NSW State Championships which the SAC is hosting later this year.

The event is set to be one of the strongest in the championships' history. Here is a list of confirmed and potential participants:

IM George Xie 2417
IM Tibor Karolyi 2352 (HUN)
FM Igor Bjelobrk 2352
FM Vlad Smirnov 2318 (RUS)
FM Jesse Sales 2312 (PHI)
FM Denis Bucher 2305 (SUI)
IM Vladimir Feldman 2301
Tomek Rej 2289
FM Greg Canfell 2286
IM Irina Feldman 2246

Both the Feldmans are still considering, but a yes nod from them and the tournament gets to be an IM-norm event. Pretty impressive. Let's just hope that the $1000 first prize will be sufficient attraction.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Twin Setbacks for Wohl

IM Alex Wohl ended his Baku campaign yesterday with a last round loss to Mushfig Askerov. It was his third upset loss to a local Azeri player. Wohl's total tally in the event was 4.5 points. Just a day earlier, in round 8, the Australian faced up to GM Alexander Beliavsky.

3rd President's Cup
Wohl, Aleksandar H
Beliavsky, Alexander G

1. Nf3 d6 2. d4 Bg4 3. c4 Nd7 4. Nc3 e5 5. e3 Ngf6 6. Be2 c6 7. Qc2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. b3 Re8 10. Bb2 Bf8 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Rad1 Qc7 13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4 f5 15. Qc2 e4 16. Nh4 Bxe2 17. Qxe2 g6 18. g4 Be7 19. Ng2 Ne5 20. Bxe5 Qxe5 21. gxf5 Qxf5 22. f3 Rad8 23. fxe4 Qxe4 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Rd1 Rf8 26. Qd3 Qg4 27. Rf1 Rd8 28. Qc2 Bd6 29. c5 Be7 30. e4 Qg5 31. b4 Bf6 32. Rd1 Rd4 33. Rxd4 Bxd4+ 34. Kf1 Kg7 35. Ke1 Be5 36. h4 Qg4 37. Kf1 Qf3+ 38. Kg1 Bd4+ 39. Kh2 Qc3 40. Qxc3 Bxc3 41. Nf4 Bxb4 42. Nd3 Bd2 0-1

Funnily enough, also settling for 4.5 points is the Azeri grandmaster Farhad Tahirov. I suppose that's some sort of consolation.

Top scorers:

7.5 Najer
7.0 Abbasov, Guseinov, Lastin, Milov, Aleksandrov, Gelashvili, Jobava, Short

Forbes on Chess

I was just reading Forbes this afternoon when I suddenly stumbled across a little chessic advice from Dan Heisman:

Journeyman: Don't make a move without checking to see if it can be defeated by your opponent with a check capture or threat. Look at least one move ahead.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Swimming with Piranhas

This morning, I was very surprised and at the same time very happy to hear again from our regular reader IM Alex Wohl. He sent me a rather entertaining note where he talks about his plight in the 3rd President's Cup, in Baku. Instead of blockquoting, like I usually do, I quote Alex's email here for better reading.

IM Alex Wohl:

I am still on the same score as Loek Van Wely although here this is nothing to be proud of. One has to win the first few rounds otherwise you can be caught in a swamp filled with Piranhas who have tasted the blood of a foreign master. If Azerbaijanis have a chess style it is to attack at all costs. Positional considerations and material are hardly given a second thought as they haphazardly direct their pieces at your King.

Yesterday I played Elshad Orujov, a very pleasant man off the board but playing him requires good nerves. I withstood his kitchen sink attack and drew an ending several pawns up due to miserable technique. Today he played on the board next to me against a talented young Georgian IM who was not quite so careful. I will not annotate the game and if you play through it you will see why. Very entertaining though.

3rd President's Cup
Blegadze, Levon
Elshad, Orujov

Comments to this game are by TCG. 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 d5 5. O-O Nc6 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Nc3 Be7 8. a3 h5 9. h4 g5 10. hxg5 h4 11. gxh4 Nf4 12. Qa4 e5

After 12...e5

13. d3 Ng6 14. Be3 Bd7 15. Qe4 Nd4 16. Nxe5 Rxh4 Up to this moment, the chess programs judge the position to be a +- for white with 17. f4 now the recommended follow-up 17. Qxb7? But thanks to this materialistic route, white brings his advantage to a halt. 17...Nxe5 18. Qxa8 Qxa8 19. Bxa8 Rg4+

Position after 19...Rg4+

20. Bg2?? The most seemingly natural move but is, in fact, a catastrophic blunder. Now checkmate is nearly inevitable. Can you spot the mate? Blegadze had to resign in 4 moves. What were black's remaining moves?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Confusion Over Kamsky - Topalov Match

Last Thursday, Germany-based website reported that the match between Gata Kamsky (US) and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) has been "confirmed" to take place later this year in Lvov, Ukraine. The confirmation was on account of financial guarantees, amounting to nearly US$1 million, allegedly received by FIDE's Swiss bank account and originating from Kamsky's manager, Alexander Chernenko.

Chernenko reportedly gave an interview, quoted by Chessbase, in which he allegedly said, "The sum of $935,000 has appeared on the bank’s computer screen in Lausanne".

Yet just 24 hours later, US magazine Chess Life has poured cold water over these developments.

Chess journalist (reporting as foreign correspondent for the Internet Chess Club) Macauley Peterson, in his post on the US Chess Federation website states quite bluntly: "Both Chernenko himself and FIDE's Athens headquarters rebut that account [that the financial guarantees have been received]".

George Mastrokoukos, a FIDE official reached by phone in Athens, said that FIDE had received no information to confirm the details of the bid. "The only person we have been speaking to is Mr. Chernenko -- I mean not myself personally, but the President [Kirsan Ilyumzhinov]," he said, adding, "These companies that are listed in their bid, we have not reached a point to check this because first of all we are waiting for the original documents and the bank transfer." FIDE also does not know the name of the bank originating the funds transfer. According to Mastrokoukos, "the only information we have is that in two business days, the money will appear in our bank account."

Read more in Questions Surround Kamsky Match.

1st Subic International Open

Another strong tournament opened yesterday in The Philippines, this time in the former United States military base of Subic, in Olongapo City. Dubbed the 1st Subic International Open, the event features GM Yuriy Kuzubov, rated 2603 and currently Ukraine's number fourteenth ranked player.

Backing up from the just concluded 2nd PIO are the usual cast of top-class locals including IM Sadorra who very narrowly missed out on a GM norm.

In yesterday's first round in Subic, most games finished according to seeding, but there were a handful of surprise results. Local player Jayson Salubre, rated 2329 and whom I've not heard of before, held top seed Kuzubov to a draw on board 1. GM Antonio also had a draw against 2282-rated compatriot Fernandito Pialan while Indonesia's IM Salor Sitanggang likewise only drew against another Pinoy player Rulp Ylem Jose (2044).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wohl Hits Another Bump

After posting two straight wins in rounds 2 and 3 of the 3rd President's Cup in Baku, IM Wohl hit another bump in the fourth game when he lost to Ali Gasanov of Azerbaijan. The Australian bounced straight back in round 5 by beating Rauf Aliyev to take his tally to 3 points in all with four more rounds to play.

3rd Presiden Cup, Baku
Gasanov, Ali
Wohl, Aleksandar H

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 g6 5. c4 Nb6 6. exd6 cxd6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 Nc6 11. b3 d5 12. c5 Nc8 13. b4 Bxf3 14. Bxf3 e6 15. b5 Na5 16. Be2 Ne7 17. Qa4 Nf5 18. Rad1 b6 19. c6 Nxe3 20. fxe3 f5 21. Bd3 Rf7 22. Ne2 Bf8 23. Rc1 Bd6 24. Qd1 Bc7 25. g3 Qd6 26. Nf4 Re8 27. Rc2 Rfe7 28. Qf3 Rd8 29. g4 Qa3 30. Rd1 Nc4 31. gxf5 gxf5 32. Kh1 Kh8 33. Rg2 Nb2 34. Rdg1 Nxd3 35. Qg3 h6 36. Qg6 Nf2+ 37. Rxf2 Bxf4 38. Rxf4 1-0

GM Evgeniy Najer leads on 5 points. Ex-Australian Open champion Vadim Milov, Alexander Lastin and Aleksej Aleksandrov are close behind on 4.5 points apiece.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chess: A Metaphor for Life

I'm sure that many of our readers are devout followers. So I guess this one's for you lot. From the South Bend Tribune:

"In life, you've got to think like the rook," Antwon explains as he sets up for another game. "He can go anywhere, backward or forward, but only in a straight direction. I'm following God's footsteps and moving forward. Some people can't do that."

Live Blogging of MTel

Our friends over at ChessDom are getting on the whole live blogging business. They've got a man on the ground at the venue to cover the event. ChessDom also have a lot photos which you can scroll through here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chao: I'm very happy

The Philippines' ABS-CBN reports that Chinese player GM Li Chao has just won the 2nd Philippine International Open. He goes home with US$6000. Chao was declared winner on tiebreak after five players ended with 8 points at the eleventh round mark. Two Pinoys, IM Julio Sadorra (contrary to the report, Julio is still an international master) and GM Bong Villamayor were among the 8-pointers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Van Wely Upset in Baku

IM Alex Wohl may rue his first round loss to 1950-rated Abgul Novruzov, but he can at least take solace in Loek van Wely's terrible showing in round 1 of the 3rd President's Cup in Baku. Here is the super-GM going down to the 2133-rated Shakhiyar Rahmanov.

Thanks to a reader for bringing this to our attention.

3rd President Cup,Baku
Van Wely, Loek
Rahmanov, Shakhiyar

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 f5 4. Bf4 Nf6 5. e3 Bd6 6. Nc3 c6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O Qe7 9. c5 Bxf4 10. exf4 Nbd7 11. Qa4 Ne4 12. Ne2 Ndf6 13. b4 a6 14. Rad1 Kh8 15. Qa5 Ng4 16. a4 Bd7 17. h3 Nh6 18. Qc7 Nf7 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 Rfd8 21. Qb6 g5 22. f3

Position after 22. f3

With van Wely's queen so out of position, Rahmanov goes for the attack! 22...gxf4 23. fxe4 f3 24. Rxf3 fxe4 25. Bxe4 dxe4 26. Rf4 Be8 27. Rxe4 Bh5 28. Rdd4 Rg8 29. Nf4 Bf3 30. Re3 Bd5 31. Re2 Raf8 32. b5 axb5 33. axb5 Qg5 34. h4 Qg4 35. Rf2 Ra8 36. Ne2 Ra1+ 37. Kh2 0-1

2nd Philippine International Open

It is chess galore in Europe at the moment. Over the last couple of weeks, we've had Baku, Plovdiv, Baku again and now M-Tel where Ivanchuk is just killing everybody. But the action isn't just over there. In nearby Philippines, the reasonably strong (11 GMs, 15 IMs, 4 FMs) 2nd Philippine International Open is taking place.

After nine rounds of the 11-round event, GM Chao Li of China and Vietnam's GM Quang Liem Le are leading by half point on 7 points from Indonesia's IM Dede Liu, GM Rogelio Antonio and the untitled Weiqi Zhou.

In round 5, recent star performer Wesley So lost to Weiqi Zhou then suffered a second loss to current co-leader Chao Li in round 8. Wesley is presently on 6 points.

But all this chess aside, we should perhaps spare a thought for the Burmese contingent in RP. As you know, Burma (or officially, Myanmar) was recently struck by Cyclone Nargis which resulted in the deaths (according to some estimates) of up to 100,000 people.

RP's Inquirer paper spoke to GM Win Lay Zaw.

For these sportsmen, who devour every bit of news from CNN and other international news networks or the Internet, the only thing worse than knowing is not knowing what is happening in their country. They left their families, some of whom live in Rangoon (Yangon), the area hardest hit by Nargis.

In the first few days of the disaster, Zaw said he tried calling friends, relatives and even acquaintances in Burma to get news in between preparations and competitions, but no call or email could reach home.

Read more in Burmese chess players in Subic worried.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Alex Wohl in Baku

International master Alex Wohl is currently playing in the 3rd International Chess Festival “President’s Cup” in Baku. For those keenly watching the composition of the Australian men's team for this year's Olympiad, Alex's performance there will be crucial. After a poor outing in Bad Woerishofen (Germany) earlier this year where he scored 5/7 and dropping his last 2 games, it seems that even Alex's enthusiasm suffered a setback.

Says he, "Bad Woerishofen was such a downer that for a while I was considering giving up altogether".

If he plays well enough in Baku, he may apply for a berth on the Olympiad side. "May" because there are evidently a number of factors that the likable Australian is considering and not the least of these is, I'm sure, his new found role as a family man. Anyway, he also tells me: "will keep reading your blog even if I retire". That is good to know!

NSWCA Teams Challenge

The first of this year's NSWCA Teams Challenge event was held yesterday in Parramatta. Led by the unstoppable Max Illingworth, SACked (Sydney Academy of Chess team), was victorious in the 12-team tournament and attended by 50 players. I was quite glad because my team, Parramatta 2, were the surprise U1800 division winners. Surprising because we did have our fair share of disasters. In the penultimate round, for example, our board 3 player, Josh Christensen, suddenly allowed a mate in 1 (with his opponent promoting to a queen) when he was just winning! Here are the prize getters.

1st - Sacked
U2000 - One Year Later
U1800 - Parramatta 2
U1600 - UNSW
U1400 - Northern Eels

Board Prizes
Board 1 Max Illingworth 7/7 (SACked)
Board 2 Jesse Sales 6/7 (One Year later)
Board 3 Simon Quick 6/7 (SACked)
Board 4 Ted Wong 7/7 (Illegal Move)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Back in Sydney

After about an hour's delay at the HK airport, I finally made it back to Sydney yesterday afternoon. Apparently there was some problem with the navigation software. If it was any other airline I'd have been terribly upset, but Cathay's very comfortable fishbone seating configuration and attentive service quickly made up.

If you've not been to HK, then now's the best time to head over, particularly those taking Aussie Dollars. At today's rates, HK is cheap! There are, of course, all the usual places to see and do, but my tips are Lan Kwai Fong, Ladies Market and for those looking to snap a cheap lappy or DSLR, the Wan Chai Computer Centre.

As for accomodation, then it's hard go wrong with the Lanson Place, in Causeway Bay; it's a newish "boutiquee" sort of joint that's right in the middle of everything. And after a hard day's work you can pop over to Brecht's, a small bar just a stone's throw away from the Lanson. The joint seats only about 15 people, perfect for a quiet drink.

And, yes (just to add a chessic content to this post), I did manage to visit the HK Chess Club last Monday. Due to renovations at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, their usual venue, the club is temporarily housed in the Sai Wan Ho Sports Centre which is located just above the Sai Wan Ho underground on the Island line. (By the way, the best way to get around HK is via the underground, the MTR. Get yourself an Octopus card; you'll save you a small fortune with that).

I must agree with Shaun: it's basically like most other clubs. For some reason, I was expecting mahogany-covered walls. There was none of that. Also, their membership seemed to be about 70%+ juniors, mostly locals but there were a few foreigners, including one Pinoy expat. Unfortunately for me, that night of my visit was round 4 (or was it 5) of the HK championships. So I couldn't get a game until just before I was due to leave. I played some kid who didn't like lightning! That was kind of strange.

Anyway, I'm back so regular programming should commence shortly. Our first regular report will be on today's Teams Challenge tournament.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gawain Jones vs World

Last October I posted about Crowd Chess here. That was thanks to TechCrunch. Today, the folks at TC have an update: Gawain Jones has been signed up by Crowd Chess to take on the world. Read more in TechCrunch.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Wesley Wins Battle of GMs

Just a quick post to report that GM Wesley So has won the Battle of the Grandmasters tournament in the Philippines. He tallied 8.5 points, a full point of GM Eugene Torre and IM Richard Bitoon. Here are the top scorers:

8.5 So
7.5 Torre, Bitoon
7.0 Gomez
6.5 Antonio
5.5 Nolte

Battle of Grandmasters
So, Wesley
Bitoon, Richard

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 h6 8. Bh4 Nbd7 9. Qf3 Be7 10. O-O-O Qc7 11. Bd3 g5 12. fxg5 Ne5 13. Qe2 Nfg4 14. Nf3 Nxf3 15. Qxf3 Ne5 16. Qh5 Ng6 17. Bg3 hxg5 18. Qf3 Bd7 19. Rhf1 Rf8 20. Qe3 O-O-O 21. Qa7 Ne5 22. Be2 Nc6 23. Qa8+ Nb8 24. a4 Bc6 25. Qa7 Nd7 26. Qa8+ Nb8 27. Qa7 Nd7 28. Bh5 Nf6 29. Rxf6 Bxf6 30. Rxd6 Rxd6 31. Qa8+ Kd7 32. Qxf8 Be7 33. Qxf7 Qd8 34. Bxd6 Kxd6 35. Bg4 Bd7 36. e5+ Kxe5 37. Qf2 Qf8 38. Qe3+ Kd6 39. Qd4+ Kc7 40. Qc4+ Kd8 41. Bf3 Bc8 42. Kb1 Bd6 43. Ne4 Be7 44. Qd4+ Kc7 45. Qe5+ Kb6 46. Nxg5 Qf5 47. a5+ Ka7 48. Qc7 Qc5 49. Qxc5+ Bxc5 50. Bg4 Be3 51. Bxe6 Bxg5 52. Bxc8 Bd2 53. c3 Bf4 54. h4 Bc7 55. b4 b6 56. axb6+ Kxb6 57. Kc2 a5 58. bxa5+ Kxa5 59. Kd3 Kb5 60. h5 Be5 61. g4 Kc5 62. c4 Kd6 63. Ke4 Bf6 64. Kf5 Bd4 65. g5 Ke7 66. Kg6 Be3 67. h6 Bf4 68. c5 1-0

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Off to Hong Kong

I'm getting on a plane in a couple of hours to head off to HK and will be there for a week. Just dropping in on business. I'm not sure if I'll have time to blog, but if there's no activity, then you know the reason. While I'm there I hope to visit the HKCC which is apparently much like Belconnen according to Shaun.

Before I head out, here's a quick reminder to make a donation (that's if you haven't) to the Australian Olympiad Appeal. At the time of this post, those Queenslanders are leading again with $2,402.00, followed by NSW with $2,294.00. Victorians, on the other hand, have managed only $1,690.00; maybe this current global credit crunch is biting hard down there. Who knows?

Finally, a reminder to Sydneysiders of 2 big events this month. First, there's the Teams Challenge 1 next weekend, followed a fortnight later by the Parramatta Rapid. Both tournaments will be good practice for the big NSW Open later in June.

I'll hope to blog a bit while I'm away, but if not, then catch you some of you guys next weekend.

English Chess in Trouble?

Our friends over at the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club blog are reporting on some big developments within the English Chess Federation. The CEO, Martin Regan, along with the international director, Peter Sowray, and director of Junior Chess, Claire Summerscale have all resigned!

Here's a quote from Peter Sowray:

My starting assumption is that English chess is in decline. Lots of evidence for this. Just as an example, I went into my local branch of Waterstones today. They have quite a large section devoted to ‘Indoor Games’. There was one chess book. Yes, one. We are way behind poker, bridge, backgammon, sudoku, etc. With a concerted effort, we may one day draw level with ‘join the dots’. Partly it’s down to social changes, but it’s much worse here than in other countries.

Background information is available here (with a link to what appears to be England's main chess forum) and also here.

Definitely interesting reading for local Aussie chess fans. See especially all that talk of money and reform.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Most Influential Chess People

Time magazine has just published their "World's Most Influential People" list for 2008. I was quite happy to see Aussie PM Kevin Rudd in there. Anyway, I remembered that last year ex-World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov made it to number 61, under "Heroes & Pioneers", so the first thing I checked this morning was to see if there is another chess personality in the list this year. Nope, there isn't one.

But tonight, over my Peroni and pizza, I wondered: if we had to draw up our own list, who are the chess world's most influential people? Possibly not a very straightforward task as there'd be plenty of things to consider. Influential in what sense, for instance? Opening theory? Administration? Politics? Events organising? This list can go on.

Just for fun, though, I'll persevere and start my own list, limited to just the top 10. Note that I take a worldwide scale here, ignoring local Aussie matters for now. So here goes.

1. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
2. Magnus Carlsen
3. Vladimir Kramnik
4. Vishy Anand
5. The ChessVibes crew
6. Chessbase crew
7. Silvio Danailov - all it takes is one complaint letter from this guy
8. Jan Timman/Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam - editors in chief of NIC magazine
9. Genna Sosonko - editor of NIC Yearbooks
10. Murray Chandler - managing director of Gambit Books

Naturally, I've left out a lot here. How about the organisers of those big events like Linares, Wijk, etc? The bloggers? Kirsan's lieutenants? Well, you tell me. Change or add to my list.

Local TV Interviews Wesley

Nine games in and the world's youngest grandmaster is stamping his authority over his rivals in the ongoing Battle of the "Grandmasters tournament in the Philippines". GM Wesley So leads on 7.5 points with Antonio and Torre both on six.

And this afternoon I received Marlon Bernardino's latest submission to RP press in which he reports that Wesley has beaten IM Richard Bitoon in the just completed ninth round.

Yesterday, So downed fellow GM "Bong" Villamayor in a Queen's Gambit.

Battle of Grandmasters
Villamayor, Buenaventura
So, Wesley

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. Qxc4 b5 9. Qc2 Bb7 10. Bg5 Nbd7 11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. Nbd2 Rc8 13. Nb3 Be4 14. Qc3 Nd5 15. Qc1 Nb4 16. Qf4 Bd5 17. Nc5 Bd6 18. Qc1 Nxa2 19. Qc2 Qe7 20. b3 Nb4 21. Qc3 Bxf3 22. Bxf3 Nd5 23. Bxd5 exd5 24. e3 Bxc5 25. dxc5 Ra8 26. c6 Qd6 27. Ra5 Rfb8 28. Rc1 Rb6 29. b4 h5 30. Ra2 Re8 31. Rd2 Re6 32. Qb3 Rxc6 33. Rxc6 Qxc6 34. Rxd5 h4 35. Qd3 h3 36. Rd8+ Re8 37. Rxe8+ Qxe8 38. Qf5 Qe6 39. g4 Qc4 40. f4 g6 41. Qc8+ Kg7 42. Kf2 Qc2+ 43. Kg3 Qg2+ 44. Kh4 Qf2+ 45. Kxh3 Qxe3+ 46. Kg2 Qxf4 47. h4 Qxb4 48. h5 Qd2+ 49. Kh3 Qe3+ 50. Kg2 Qe6 0-1

And here's something for our Pinoy readers, courtesy of ABS-CBN. It's a video interview of the young GM with local celebrity, Edu Manzano. Mostly in Tagalog. Unfortunately, the video ends abruptly so it's incomplete.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bunny on a Toilet

Yes, a bunny on a toilet is the Rook in the latest chess set available for the Xbox Live Arcade game, Chessmaster Live. Gamers can download the set for 200 Microsoft Points.

Wired magazine has the screenshot here.

Big Issue of Australian Chess

Got home today with the latest issue of Brian Jones' Australian Chess magazine waiting for me in the mailbox.

I can't imagine that there'd be too many local chess fans who don't already subscribe. But if you don't have a subscription, then you might want to seriously consider getting at least the latest issue. It's a classic! Hec, I reckon even Mr Peter Parr will want one. There's the usual report about the two big events we just had, Doeberl and the SIO, but what I really enjoyed reading was GM Zong Yuan-Zhao's account of his climb to the heights of grandmaster status.

Here he is receiving some timely psychological advice from legendary trainer, Laszlo Hazai.

Here I would like to briefly mention a very important person who helped me through in this really difficult situation. His name is Laszlo Hazai and he can be considered to be the main trainer of the famous Polgar sisters during their formative years. He is not only a strong player himself, an even better opening theoretician but even more importantly for me, a wonderful psychology consultant. After my first four games, he sat me down and simply said, "okay forget about this GM norm, you are getting too excited, just play the remaining games and don't shed too many ELO points". Very down to Earth advice which worked wonders!